Table saws are a great tool for cutting material into specific shapes and sizes. But they also come with some challenges. One challenge is figuring out how to cut thin strips. I will guide you step by step on how to cut thin strips on your table saw.
In a quick way, to cut thin strips on a table saw, first cut down the middle of the piece you’re working with. Then, set the blade to a shallow depth and make another cut next to the first one. Repeat this process until you have the desired number of strips.
Keep reading to find out more about this!
Always wear safety goggles when using the tools, always make sure that the blade is in place, and keep fingers away from moving parts of the machine.
How To Cut Thin Strips On a Table Saw?
Fancy Push Blocks
The first thing we need to do is set up our work area. This can be done in several ways, but I prefer to use fancy push blocks. These allow us to place material in the middle of the blade without having it get kicked back towards us.
They also help keep the material from getting jammed in the blade when making multiple cuts. Here’s what my setup looks like.
I have two pieces of plywood that are about 2 inches thick. The top piece has a 1/4 inch lip around its edge. The bottom piece doesn’t have any edges or anything else sticking out of it. On one end of each piece, there is a small hole drilled through them.
Place Plywood on Top Surface of Saw Blade
Place the top piece of plywood on top of the table saw blade so that the lip of the plywood covers the entire width of the blade (Figure A).
Make sure that the plywood is centered over the blade and that it does not extend past the outside edge of the blade. If necessary, adjust the position of the plywood until it is perfectly centered over the blade.
Drill Small Holes Into Plywood
Using a drill press, make three holes along the centerline of the plywood (Figure B). Each hole should be roughly 3/16-inch deep. Use a Forstner bit to make these holes.
Attach Push Blocks to Plywood
Attach two wooden dowels to the bottoms of each side of the plywood using glue and wood screws (Figure C). Then attach the third dowel to the center of the plywood.
Make sure that the dowels are positioned so that they are flush against the surface of the plywood. You may need to trim off excess wood before gluing.
Cut Strips of Wood
Now that everything is ready, we can start cutting! Using a hand plane, carefully cut strips of wood as close together as possible (Figure D). Keep an eye on the thickness gauge that came with your table saw.
It will tell you exactly how many millimeters wide the strip needs to be. Note that if you are using a different brand of table saw, the thickness gauge might be slightly different.
Sanding Thin Strips
Once you have all of your strips cut, sand down the rough edges of the strips with a random orbit sander (Figure E). Take care not to sand too much though. We don’t want to remove too much material because this could affect the strength of the finished product.
Assemble Pieces Together
Now that we have all of our pieces cut and sanded, we can assemble them together. First, take apart the push block that was used earlier. There should be four metal rods inside the block. Pick up one of the rods and put it through the hole in the center of the board (Figure F). Repeat for the other three rods.
Next, pick up the rod that goes into the hole at the end of the board. Put it through the second hole. Continue doing this for the last two rods. Once you have the final assembly completed, screw the rods to the boards.
Glue Everything Together
Use wood glue to attach the boards to the rods (Figure G). Be careful not to let any of the glue squeeze out between the rods and the boards. Let the glue dry completely.
Trim Boards Down
After the glue dries, use a handsaw to trim down the length of the boards. This will give you nice straight lines.
Sand the boards again. The goal here is to get a smooth finish on the boards. Don’t worry about getting every little imperfection out of the boards. They will still look great when they are done.
Finally, stain or paint the boards. I chose to leave mine unstained since it already has some natural color. But feel free to add another layer of color to yours.
Thin Strip Jig
I know what you’re thinking: “How do I rip thin strips?” Well, it’s actually pretty easy. All you need is a small router equipped with a 1/8″-diameter round-over bit. To set things up, clamp a piece of scrap plywood to the workbench. Then place the router on top of the plywood. Set the depth control to 0.5 inches.
Finally, adjust the fence so that the blade is just touching the bottom edge of the plywood. Now simply feed the strip of wood onto the router. When you turn the handle, the blade will move back and forth across the plywood. That’s it!
By the way, you can also use a jigsaw to rip thin strips. Just make sure you have enough clearance around the blade. Otherwise, you’ll risk slicing off part of your finger.
With these two projects, you now have the skills necessary to build your own thin strips. You can even modify these designs by changing the size of the drawer fronts. If you decide to go bigger, then you may want to consider adding a shelf above the drawers. And if you decide to go smaller, then you may want more shelves instead of fewer.
Why didn’t you use a circular saw?
Circular saws are perfect for ripping long lengths of stock. However, they aren’t very good for ripping narrow strips. A circular saw would probably tear the wood away from the fence before it got close to the blade. That would cause the blades to catch on the fence and kick back.
It wouldn’t be possible to keep the blade moving forward while the blade is being pulled backward. So, a table saw is better suited to making thin strips.
How wide should my strips be?
Experimentation is the best method for finding the right width. Here are some guidelines: For most cabinet doors, try using 3/4″ x 2″. For larger cabinets, you might choose 1/2″ x 4″.
For small cabinets, you could use 1/4″ x 6″. Or you could try something different and use 5/16″ x 12″. Whatever width you choose, remember that it must fit within the dimensions of the cabinet door.
What type of wood should I use?
Try oak or birch for the face frame. Maple is usually too soft for this application. Pine won’t work because pine doesn’t hold its shape well. Also, avoid using cherry or walnut. Those woods warp easily